In developing and managing your personal brand, the most basic marketing principles apply. In today’s job-hunting environment, the most successful job-seekers are those who understand the value of marketing and apply to themselves those principles that companies have used for years to successfully sell their products. Those principles are:
- What brand are you; how do you present?
- What do you want to be known for; what reputation elements are you wishing to display?
- How do you build awareness of yourself, and then reinforce that awareness so you become more top-of-mind versus other candidates?
- Where do you voice your brand (you)? What ‘media’ channels?
- How do you measure your success?
- Are you willing to change/evolve according to the reception and success you’re achieving?
There are 3 key things to consider before you begin the personal branding journey:
- Are you willing to be yourself – to put who you are into what you do and how you do it?
- Personal branding is based in authenticity, not in creating an image for the outside world – can you be authentic?
- Can you bring yourself – your best self to every interview or career experience?
Building a strong personal brand isn’t about telling people how great you are, it’s about showing people how great you are.
Messaging – Tone/Personality/Style
If you are a brand, then your clothing is your logo. What impression is your wardrobe giving to those around you? Consider how you present yourself. Think about what impresses you when you meet people for the first time. Things such as Personal Style, Colour Choices, Casual vs Corporate Attire, Hair and Make-up. How do the individual components represent your personality and the impression you wish to convey? They say ‘first impressions count’ well, it is a well documented fact that the way your present yourself creates an impression is the first 7 seconds! Do you…
- shake hands (top & tail)
- come prepared with questions
- demonstrate your enthusiasm of the job through prior research
- retain eye contact
- answer questions properly
- know when to stop talking ???
Distribution channels – how to initiate contact
There are numerous ways to initiate an approach when seeking to further your career:
- Job Postings & Recruitment Advertising – watch and select
- Cold Calling – tough for most people, but sometimes you get lucky this way
- Networking – again, tough for some people, but an absolute ‘must’ at any stage of career progression
- Job-hunting on the Web
- University Career Centers & Alumni Offices
- Headhunters/Recruiters/Executive Search Firms/Employment Agencies – all viable and well known routes to employment. Just remember to treat these people the same way you would treat the actual company you’re interviewing with. Never assume you’ll pass this phase and go straight into an interview with a company.
Which is the most important distribution channel? Most career experts agree that networking is crucial to a successful job search. Networking means developing a broad list of contacts – people you’ve met through various social and business functions – and using them to your advantage when you look for a job.
Building an online presence
Today, no personal brand can be built without acknowledging and understanding how to utilise the online space that surrounds our every day lives. One of the first things you can do is to create an online portfolio. Find out if your personal domain name is available. If it is, purchase it! I recommend building and designing your online portfolio using a free content management system, such as WordPress. On the homepage, include a welcome message to visitors which can be a similar, more generic version of your cover letter. Then, include separate pages for your resume, portfolio, contact information and a link to your professional blog (if you feel comfortable with this). What are the biggest personal branding mistakes job seekers make?
- Not controlling content. Many sites—such as Facebook or Twitter—have ‘private’ settings for personal information. If your future employer won’t think it’s appropriate, take the content down or make your profile private.
- Not knowing what makes you unique. Show employers how you will fit with their company and why you will be an asset.
- Not taking advantage of technology. Along with LinkedIn, Twitter and other sites for networking, you should also create an online portfolio. Sites such as VisualCV or webs.com allow you to compile your work and show them to others.
I like to remind people that Google is not a search engine. It is a reputation management system. Online, your reputation is quantifiable, findable and totally unavoidable.
LinkedIn is a:
- Professional social network
- Way to research business and individuals
- Professional “Branding” opportunity
- Watch the photos you upload
- Create a business page and a friends site separately
- Watch wall posts
- Join relevant Groups
- Publish anything you write, any article written about you and any links to relevant industry pieces. It is about building a profile and enhancing awareness of you out in the larger world.
Online is one of modern day’s networking tools. Never underestimate its power or its influence and the impression it leaves. It has become part of your “grooming”… as important as the clothes you wear! If you follow these tips and remember you are the brand, then you will find that over time you will do all these things as part of your second nature, and there is actually no major effort required, other than being conscious of how you continually reinforce “brand YOU”!